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how long does decree nisi take?

Posted by: blueeyes
15/05/07 at 9:39 pm

Can  you help?

After a period of separation of 5 years and ongoing divorce proceedings lasting 18 months, my solicitor finally lodged an application for Decree Nisi to the court on 19th April. I was under the impression that this would take between 4-6 weeks to come through, but my solicitor says it won't be until the middle of June, making the time about 9 weeks.

Does anyone know why this takes so long? I am anxious to move on with my life after all this time and would like to be in a position to remarry. Is it normal for the court to take this long and can I do anything about it?

There is currently 1 reply.

Re: how long does decree nisi take?

Posted by: Suzanne Kingston, partner, Dawson's Solicitors
21/05/07 at 5:01 pm

It is not unusual for there to be some delay at the courts, particularly when it comes to procedural matters. The speed at which matters are dealt with will vary from court to court.


It may well be that your solicitor lodged an application for Decree Nisi in April and that a notice of pronouncement has now been received from the court setting a date for mid June when the court will pronounce your decree in open court. Unfortunately, there is very little that either you or your solicitor can do to speed along this process now that you have a date for pronouncement, however, if financial matters have now been resolved you can then apply for your Decree to be made Absolute as soon as your Decree Nisi has been pronounced.


As I am sure your solicitor has advised you, your marriage will not be dissolved until you have your Decree Absolute and it is only at this point that you will be free to remarry.


Which is the right way?


Adultery occurs when either party to the marriage has sex with a third party. The name of the third party is rarely mentioned (ie it is adultery with an unnamed third party) and in fact the Resolution code of practice, which many solicitors sign up to, strongly suggests that the third party should not be named. If the third party remains unnamed then there is no reason to notify them of proceedings.


Unreasonable behaviour is far less black and white and can be used as the fact of a petition where the behaviour cited is relatively mild. It is often said that almost any “functional and happy ” marriage could be dissolved on the basis of either party’s behaviour due to the low threshold for behaviour to be considered unreasonable.


If unreasonable behaviour is cited as the reason for the breakdown, it will be necessary to provide 4 – 6 particulars of specific incidents. Particulars could include for example the fact that you and your wife have stopped socialising together or having a sexual relationship.


Divorce Costs – Who pays?


Often parties do agree to share the costs of a divorce or one party agrees to pay the other’s costs usually because they are the higher earner. However, if you cannot agree this you can still ask in the Petition for your wife to pay the cost’s of divorce, she will then be asked to respond to this in her Acknowledgement of Service. If she does not agree to pay your costs then the court will decide how costs should be dealt with and will make and order.


Samantha Coates


It is very important that you take detailed advice, if at all possible prior to divorce proceedings being issues, about your financial situation. You will need to disclose to a solicitor your financial situation (matrimonial finances which includes your husbands assets and income) so that they can advise you about how the law applies the specific facts of your case.


Essentially, a solicitor would apply case law and statute, which would most importantly include going through the section 25 factors, which I have set out for you below:


Section 25 Factors


(a)               The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future. 


(b)               The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future. 


(c)               The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage. 


(d)               The age of each spouse and the length of the marriage. 


(e)               Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage. 


(f)                 The contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely to make in the foreseeable future, to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family. 


(g)               The financial conduct of each of the parties, if in the opinion of the Court it would be inequitable to disregard it.


(h)               The value to each spouse of any benefit (for example a pension) which, by dissolution or annulment of the marriage, that person will lose the chance of acquiring.



The above factors would be used to argue away from the starting point of equality. It would be here that your contribution as the children’s primary carer both historically and going forward, and the impact on your earning capacity that this has, would be considered.


As mentioned above it is extremely important that you speak to a solicitor about your situation before discussing it in any detail with your husband.